Advertisements
    Advertisements
  • Following Us

  • Categories

  • Check out the Archives



  • Awards & Nominations

  • Advertisements

Non-Review Review: Ocean’s 8

Ocean’s 8 is mostly a charming and inoffensive heist movie that coasts off the charisma of its central cast.

This isn’t necessarily a criticism of itself. There’s nothing wrong in watching an ensemble including Cate Blanchett and Sandra Bullock bounce off one another, performers who are both talented screen and genuine old-fashioned movie stars. As with the series of films that obviously inspired (and named) Ocean’s 8, the cast have an easy chemistry with one another. Star power goes a long way, and there’s something almost refreshing in seeing a movie that runs almost exclusively on it in this age where these sorts of high-profile movies are largely driven franchising, high concepts and intellectual property.

Properly trained for this.

Of course, there’s some small complication in that in that Ocean’s 8 feels at times like an effort to split the difference between being a star-driven caper movie and also the latest installment in a larger recognisable franchise. Indeed, some of the movie’s weakest moment lean most heavily on nods and winks to the trilogy of Steven Soderbergh movies that provided a launching pad for this female-star-driven caper. The title character is Debbie Ocean, revealed to be the sister of Danny Ocean; that is the least of it. (Even the choice of “8” in the title seems designed to leave room for two more installments making a trilogy.)

Still movie stars are a dying breed, so it’s a novelty to see so many of them congregating in the same place and to see a movie that understands the appeal of watching confident performers playing competent characters who are constantly in motion. Ocean’s 8 lacks some of the more undervalued elements of the earlier films, the problems created by their absence here underscoring their importance, but it mostly succeeds as a light and breeze caper movie without a clear antagonist, without a strong directorial vision and with an over-extended third act.

Getting the gang together.

Continue reading

Advertisements

Non-Review Review: Unsane

This film was seen as part of the Audi Dublin International Film Festival 2018.

Unsane is off the wall.

The movie simply should not work, by just about any conceivable measure. Unsane is at once a conspiracy thriller criticism of the hypercapitalist impulses of the American healthcare system and a self-aware trashy nineties psychothriller about a young professional woman who may or may not be dealing with a stalker, all shot on an iPhone. It is One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest meets Single White Female meets Tangerine. It is astounding that the film works as well as it does, that Unsane remains compelling and engaging even as it careens off the tracks.

A large part of this is down to a fantastic central performance by Claire Foy, who holds the thematically loopy and surreal adventure together through sheer force of will. Unsane subjects its protagonist to a cavalcade of horrors and twists, any one of which blatantly absurd upon even the most cursory of examinations. However, Foy anchors the film in a compelling and engaging central performance to manages to keep the audience both off-balance and sympathetic at the same time. It is a deft (and impressive) balancing act.

Similarly, writer and director Steven Soderbergh also deserves a great deal of credit for keeping Unsane from completely unspooling. For all the chaos and absurdity of the film, for all the tonal shifts and weird contrivances, for all the trashy genre tropes and gonzo plotting, it never feels like Unsane escapes its director. Soderbergh walks a fine line, producing a film that veers wildly and unpredictably, while also seeming to know exactly what it is doing. The result is bizarre, but engaging. It might be too much to describe Unsane as good, but it is good fun.

Continue reading

Non-Review Review: Behind the Candelabra

It’s a shame that Behind the Candelabra didn’t receive a theatrical release in the United States. It’s a shame for a lot of reasons. For one thing, it’s a shame that the studios think so little of American audiences that they’d refuse a relatively meagre $5m budget for a Liberace biopic which was “too gay.” It’s a shame that Steven Soderbergh’s last film will not be shown in American cinemas, given his recent discussions about the state of the medium. It’s a shame that none of the talented people involved in the film (from Michael Douglas through to make-up artists Todd Kleitsch and Christine Beveridge) will never garner the awards attention they so sorely deserve.

It’s also a shame because Behind the Candelabra is just a damn fine piece of cinema, and one which deserves a little time on the big screen.

Cloaked in mystery...

Cloaked in mystery…

Continue reading

Non-Review Review: Welcome to the Punch

This film was seen as part of the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival 2013.

Welcome to the Punch is a weird best, a sort of a hybrid that runs on a engine built of mismatched parts. It’s very clearly a distinctly British film. the presence of Mark Strong and James McAvoy attests to that, let alone the supporting cast composed of people like Daniel Mays, Jason Flemyng, Davide Morrissey, Peter Mullen and Andrea Riseborough. However, it’s constructed in the style of an American action movie, with lots of guns, explosions and chases. It’s a very strange cocktail, and Welcome to the Punch suffers because it doesn’t blend the strength of both schools of thrillers. It feels rather clumsily, and rather hastily, thrown together without any real thought as to what the final composition might turn out like.

Top gun...

Top gun…

Continue reading

Non-Review Review: Side Effects

This film was seen as part of the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival 2013.

On one level, Side Effects is a deliciously pulpy medical thriller, with the kind of zig-zagging twisty plot that you’d expect from a Michael Crichton novel. It’s more than satisfying on these terms, almost serving as a feature-length pilot for an imaginary medical drama starring Jude Law. After all, with House off the air, there’s a clear gap in the market for a smooth English actor playing the lead in an unconventional medical drama. If he is sarcastic, all the better. While the genius of the early years of House came from mashing up the medical subgenre with the police procedural to produce a then-unique hybrid, Scott Z. Burns instead blends the medical drama with a decidedly more trashy and sordid thriller to provide a satisfyingly twisty drama.

However, on another level, Side Effects teases issues that are far more interesting than the movie it eventually becomes. It’s very frustrating when your red herrings feel like they’d produce a more thoughtful or insightful piece of cinema than the final story. Side Effects broaches topics that mainstream cinema hasn’t really engaged with, and the opening scenes flirt with the idea of providing an entirely different film. It’s not always fair to judge a film for what it isn’t, but the problem is that Side Effects sets up a much more tempting and intriguing look at medicine than we get with the final product.

Love isn't the only drug...

Love isn’t the only drug…

Continue reading

Jameson Dublin International Film Festival 2013: Highlights!

The Jameson Dublin International Film Festival launched the programme for its eleventh year today. There’s some great stuff in here. There’s a variety of films, from European to American to Asian, from big budget blockbusters to intimate documentaries to more personal films. It’s a great selection of films, and festival director Grainne Humphreys should be proud. After all, if your biggest complaint is having to choose between L.A. Confidential and Bernie, then you must be doing something right.

I’ve picked out some of my own most anticipated events of the schedule below, in rough chronological order, so if you are looking for something to do on a particular day, feel free to see if there’s anything of interest. Unfortunately, some of the events overlap, so you can’t attend everything – something that’s a massive shame given some of the films on display here. With that in mind, the list is below.

JDIFF Brand 2011 (Landscape) copy

Continue reading

Dancing on the Edge of a Blade (Runner): Prometheus & Hyper-Intertextuality

Prometheus arrived on blu ray last week. I’m a big fan of the movie, despite the palpable sense of disappointment generated on its arrival – I suspect that I was wise not to expect answers, and instead to enough the movie for what it was. I’m not alone in considering the film’s ties to Alien to be among its weakest elements, forcing the movie to tie into something that had been a massive movie mystery for decades, rather than allowing it to be its own thing. However, it has emerged that Ridley Scott apparently hoped the movie could go further than that. Reportedly, the director had hoped that it could serve as something akin to “connective tissue” to tie together two of his most definitive science-fiction universes. Apparently, the director wanted to set the film in the same world as Blade Runner.

Continue reading